RICHMOND, Va. – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about the spread of the legum rationem mutus virus (LRM), a recently identified pathogen that experts say disproportionately affects state legislators.
“We have yet to identify a true ‘patient zero’ with respect to this virus, so it’s possible the first case of what we now call LRM has been lost to history,” said John Bell, an epidemiologist who directs the Division of Low Consequence Pathogens at the CDC. “Given the nature and symptoms of those infected, our best guess is it first took hold in either Florida or Arizona, then spread from there to other states and legislative houses across the country.”
According to Bell, the primary symptoms of LRM include mental lethargy, difficulty operating and comprehending digital devices, proposing hopelessly inane legislation and “magical thinking,” a form of delusion in which the patient firmly believes he/she can address complex societal and cultural issues with a single, simplistic action.
Bell said the CDC thought it had effectively quarantined the virus in Arizona following a severe breakout characterized by several proposals that clearly violated the First Amendment and so-called “birther” legislation, but later realized the virus had crossed the border into Utah.
“As soon as we heard about the proposal in Utah to declare porn a public health crisis, my entire staff let out a collective ‘uh-oh,” Bell said. “As professionals who work on actual public-health crises all the time, from disease outbreaks to the country’s ongoing problems with everything from opioid addiction to obesity, we know a public health crisis when we it. Thankfully, we also know bullshit, socially conservative rhetoric masquerading as a legitimate health concern when we see it, too — which is the clearest hallmark of an LRM outbreak.”
The CDC believes the same strain of LRM that infected the Utah legislature has now spread to Virginia, where State Delegate Bob Marshall represents the first identified case in the area. Bell said the CDC’s biggest fear is Marshall may already have infected some of his colleagues.
“LRM is so new and so hard to distinguish from ordinary, run-of-the-mill stupidity, it’s almost impossible to effectively quarantine legislators before they infect their colleagues,” Bell said. “Realistically, we should already have locked down the capitol there, but the logistics and legal hassles of doing so are practically insurmountable.”
CDC researchers are still trying to figure out the exact mechanism by which LRM spreads, although Bell said it has been proven to ‘jump’ from legislators to citizens working in the private sector. The good news, he said, is the virus appears to “do significantly less damage” to private-sector patients.
“If you think about it, there’s no real harm in some loudmouth idiot who doesn’t even get a vote in the state house coming up with dumb ideas for new laws,” Bell said. “Unless we wind up electing him as our president, or something crazy like that.”
Bell said while there’s currently no cure for LRM, it does seem to fade in legislators after they leave or get voted out of office, although it can take years for patients to fully return to normal. One such ex-legislator, former Arizona Senator Buford Gildedwater, said he began to feel better “almost immediately” after retiring from politics.
“It’s hard to believe now, but I used to be one of those people who was against gays serving in the military, thought forced integration of schools was completely wrong and didn’t think women should be allowed to get an abortion even if they’d been raped by a member of their own freakin’ family,” Gildedwater said. “I hadn’t been out of office six months when I realized just how insane I’d become. I’m not sure if I’ve recovered fully yet, but I can certainly tell you this cruel, pitiless virus needs to be researched, figured out and eradicated just as surely as we must do the same with ISIS, the IRS and the Department of Education.”
In terms of prevention, Bell said citizens can help protect themselves and deter further spread of the virus by educating themselves and learning how to spot warning signs of possible infection.
“If one of your loved ones starts talking about running for public office, whether their ambition is to be elected at the local, state or national level, it’s important you immediately start asking them questions about their platform,” Bell said. “If they start talking about renaming French fries ‘freedom fries,’ or making it a felony to burn the flag, or passing a law that restricts the sale of video games to minors the same way we do tobacco, alcohol and porn, call 911 immediately.”